If you celebrate Christmas every year, this plant is pretty much familiar to you. The poinsettia tree that originally came from Mexico is indeed the “Christmas Star” as it is always there at every home when the festive holidays begin.
The plant’s beauty may make you want it to decorate your home all year around—not only for certain holidays. Thinking of buying or growing one? Either way, the following may meet your need.
1. The Origin of Poinsettia Plant
The poinsettia tree (Euphorbia pulcherrima)—also known as the Christmas—is a plant species under the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae).
Originally came from Mexico—specifically in the middle of wild, tropical forests at the southern part of Sinaloa down the whole Pacific coast of Mexico to Guatemala, the decorative plant consists of leaves with red and green colors and is popularly used as Christmas floral decoration.
Poinsettia is a shrub or small tree, generally reaching 0.6–4 meters tall. The length of the plant leaf ranges from 7 to 16 centimeters.
The bract colors are made through a process called photoperiodism. It means, to change their colors, the bracts need to be in the dark—for about 12 hours at once within continuously five days. The plant also requires much light for the leaves to change into the brightest colors.
2. Interesting Facts about Poinsettia Plant
There are several interesting facts you should know about this lovely plant, such as:
- Poinsettia plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett (born: 1779, died: 1851), an ambassador in Mexico for the US. During his duty in Mexico in 1825, he found the poinsettia and brought it home until it gained its popularity in the US and the entire world. Therefore, the National Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12th, every year—to commemorate the death of Joel Poinsett.
- Poinsettia tree is a tropical plant. In the wild forests, the plant grows as a perennial climber—the plant that survives to more than 2 years and reaches nearly 10 feet (3.04 meter) tall.
- There is a myth that poinsettias are toxic. It has never been proven so far. However, the plants have milky latex that potentially gives you, your family, and pets skin irritation and stomach ache (in high exposure).
- Many often mistake poinsettia bracts—mostly in flaming red, but can also be in other colors like orange, pink, pale green, marbled, white, yellow, and cream—for flower petals due to their colors and groupings, but they are also part of the leaves.
- Despite the beauty of the whole plant, poinsettia flowers are unknown and are not potentially attractive to pollinators. The flowers—known as “cyathia”—are the yellow things in the center of each of the foliage.
3. How to Grow Poinsettias as a Houseplant
Before growing poinsettia trees, you should keep in mind that they are tropical plants that need optimal light, humidity, and warmth to last long. Your poinsettia tree will optimally bloom under these circumstances:
The best temperature for growing a poinsettia tree is between 65°-75°F (18.33°-23.89°C). The plant is vulnerable to cold temperatures that its leaves will easily fall off and look scraggly.
Keep the plant from the dry condition by watering the plant wholly, then empty its drainage tray so your plant will not get soaking wet. To increase humidity in the surrounding, use a tray of pebbles, humidifying system, and/or misting.
Growing poinsettia plant means you need regular bright sunlight for six hours a day. It is also best for you to place your poinsettia tree near the most see-through window in your house. However, never let the plant to rub against each other with cold glass.
Never feed your poinsettia tree while blooming. Fertilizers should come later—read the following for more information.
4. Poinsettia Care Instructions throughout the Year
As mentioned above, poinsettia tree is a decorative plant popularly used to celebrate the festive Christmas season. However, is it possible to have it remain growing at your home the whole year? Follow these instructions of poinsettia care after Christmas.
Winter (January – March)
Keep watering and enjoying your poinsettia tree placed near a fully light-through window while it is still blooming.
Once the blooms fade, the plant takes a rest for a while until summer. Trim your plant to 6-8 inches (15.24 – 20.32 centimeters) tall. Do moderate watering and let the plant to get dry after each of watering.
Summer (May – September)
Report your summer poinsettia tree if necessary—swap it with a bigger light-weighted pot—when the plant begins to get rooted. Feed your plant with organic fertilizer once in two weeks as soon as you see new grown tips. You may also place your plant outdoors in this season.
In this season, for 8-10 weeks, place your poinsettia tree in total darkness for 12-15 hours every day. You may cover the plant with a black plastic bag or a dark room or closet with the door and window closed. During the daylight, take off the covering so that the plant can get the sunlight for about 6 hours.
Holiday Blooms (November – December)
After the darkness treatment for 8-10 weeks, there will be flower buds appear in the center of your plant’s foliage. Stop the treatment and adding fertilizers until spring. Keep watering, however.
5. When You Buy a Poinsettia Tree
Buying a Poinsettia tree is not as easy as it sounds. You have to consider the following before making the purchase.
- Choose bushy plants with colorful bracts that are opened, but not coated with pollen (pollen falling off means the blooming time is about to end). Ideally, the plant size should be about 2.5 times the pot diameter.
- Once you have chosen your new poinsettia, do not let the wind gets in to prevent damages.
- Your new poinsettia tree should stay warm during the trip home after you buy it since the plant is highly sensitive to cold.
- Prevent your newly purchased poinsettia from getting wet. If your new plant is wrapped in a foil wrapper, you had better remove it or poke some holes to let the water to drain.
Finally, keep in mind that poinsettia is also quite sensitive to several diseases—bacterial, fungal, and parasitic. So, take good care of it. Well, now, you are ready to have a pretty poinsettia tree all the year around for your home decoration. Enjoy it!